Investigating Birth Injuries & Proving Negligence
Any birth injury can permanently alter the course of your child’s
life, and they often require significant amounts of money to provide ongoing
medical treatment. Even a slight spinal injury may be enough to keep a
child from ever reaching his or her full potential, much less a neurological
If your child has suffered what you believe might be a birth injury, you
should consult an experienced Hawaii birth injury attorney who will be
able to determine whether your child’s injury was the result of
negligence during the delivery process. The question of whether a birth
defect or a birth injury is the result of medical negligence is often
extremely complicated, requiring a careful review of the medical records
and other relevant information. The highly experienced attorneys and medical
staff at Davis Levin Livingston can provide a prompt and thorough consultation,
at absolutely no cost to you, to determine whether your child and family
have a viable legal claim arising out of your child’s injury.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
A variety of medical errors can cause birth injuries. Birth injury cases
are considered medical malpractice cases. To prove a birth injury case,
the plaintiff must prove that the care provided by the medical professional
fell below the applicable “standard of care” and that this
breach of the standard of care caused an injury to the patient. Both of
these elements of proof must be established through the opinions of medical
experts. The birth injury attorneys and medical staff at Davis Levin Livingston
work with leading medical experts from across the United States in order
to develop and present the expert testimony needed to satisfy these burdens of proof.
The following are examples of negligent conduct that may cause birth injuries:
One common cause of birth injury is a
lack of oxygen. A distracted or inattentive doctor could miss signs that the baby needed
Another common cause of birth injury is delivering a baby vaginally when
the baby should have been delivered by
cesarean section or improperly delaying a needed cesarean section.
- A doctor can also fail to take note of the fact that a mother is likely
to have a larger baby because the mother has a condition like diabetes.
The failure to note the size of the baby could prevent the doctor from
discussing, planning for, or ordering a cesarean section, which could
put the baby and mother at risk.
- The medical staff may miss the signs and symptoms of an obstetrical emergency
such as a uterine rupture or a placental abruption and, therefore, improperly
delay in diagnosing and treating these life-threatening conditions.
- An obstetrician may make improper decisions during the delivery process
that expose the baby (and sometimes the mother) to avoidable risks. For
example, the physician may err in the use of medications to induce labor,
such as Pitocin.
- Birth injuries may result from a failure by the medical professionals properly
and timely to diagnose or treat a maternal infection (i.e., chorioamnionitis).
- Birth injuries can result from mistakes made by the medical staff during
an attempt to resuscitate a newborn who is having difficulty breathing.
- Blindness can result from a failure to properly and timely diagnose and
treat retinopathy of prematurity.
- Birth injuries can result from an improper delegation of responsibility
to a medical professional who lacks the education, training, or experience
to provide the type and level of medical care required by the mother or baby.
- Birth injuries can result from failures by a member of an obstetrical team
to communicate needed information with other members of the team or with
other professionals involved in caring for the mother and child, resulting
in medical errors that injure the child.
There are many other possible ways in which the negligence of medical professionals
may cause a birth injury. Indeed, every birth injury case is unique. In
most cases, the treating physicians and other medical staff involved in
your child’s delivery will not share with you any concern they might
have that your child’s injury was caused by their own negligence.
For this reason, it is wise for you to have an experienced attorney review
your unique case to determine whether your child’s injury was the
result of medical negligence.
This usually will require a thorough review of the pertinent medical records,
together with whatever additional information is available, and almost
always will require an analysis of extremely complicated medical and legal issues.
What Is The Difference Between Birth Injuries & Birth Defects?
Birth injuries should be distinguished from birth defects. Birth defects
generally involve harm to the baby that occurred before the birthing process,
as a result of something that took place before or during the pregnancy.
By contrast, birth injuries typically involve something that goes wrong
during the delivery of the child. Because birth defects sometimes can
result from such things as exposure to environmental toxins or inappropriate
medications during pregnancy, inadequate prenatal care, or improperly
treated viral or bacterial infections during pregnancy, it is wise to
consult an attorney if your child is born with what is diagnosed as a
Infants are vulnerable by nature, but it is during the birth process that
the majority of birth injuries occur. Either through poor judgment on
the part of a doctor or nurse, harmful hospital policies or other reasons,
your child can sustain serious injuries entering the world.
Taking Legal Action after a Birth Injury
When a doctor or other medical provider injures a patient through negligence,
it is considered medical malpractice. They failed to observe the standard
of care—the basic rules that ensure the safety of their patients.
When medical providers take on the job of caring for others, they commit
themselves to providing adequate care to all patients. Unfortunately,
not all doctors are as attentive to their duties as they should be.
While everyone has bad days at work, there are some jobs where you cannot
afford to make a mistake—delivery of children being one of them.
When a doctor or nurse fails to do his or her job correctly and your child
suffers as a result, taking legal action is the only reasonable response.
Caring for a seriously injured newborn is an enormous challenge, both physically
and emotionally. It also can be a time of great confusion and even anger.
Rarely is there a simple and clear-cut explanation for your child’s
injury; indeed, parents often have great difficulty obtaining a satisfactory
explanation of the cause of the injury from their health care provider.
By consulting an experienced birth injury attorney, the parents of an
injured child can take comfort that they are protecting their child’s
legal rights while freeing themselves to devote their full energy to their
child’s life care needs.
Our firm understands that pursuing a medical malpractice case will never
take back what happened. What it will do, however, is ensure that you
have the money you need to cover a lifetime of medical bills and that
those responsible never make the same mistake again.
If your child has suffered a birth injury, please contact our firm today
at (808) 740-0633. We want to help you get the recovery you need to
pay for the care of your child.